Running Tools

GRAMPS tools allow you to perform various types of analysis of your genealogical data. Typically, the tools do not produce output in form of printouts or files. Instead, they produce screen output immediately available for the researcher. However, when appropriate, you can save the results of running a tool into a file. Tools present one of the major strengths of GRAMPS compared to the most genealogical software.

The tools can be accessed through the menu by choosing ToolsTool SectionParticular Tool. Alternatively, you can browse the complete selection of available tools along with their brief descriptions in a Tool Selection dialog invoked by clicking the Tools icon on the toolbar.

Analysis and Exploration

This section contains tools which analyze and explore the database, but do not alter it. The following analysis and exploration tools are currently available in GRAMPS:

Compare individual events

This tool compares events across the selected group of people. The people for this comparison are chosen with the use of custom filters. The custom filters can be created in the Custom Filter Editor (see the section called “Custom Filter Editor”) that can be invoked by clicking the Custom Filter Editor button. The resulting table produced by this tool can be saved as a spreadsheet.

Interactive descendant browser

This tool builds a tree with the Active Person being the root. Children branch from their parents in the usual manner. Use this tool for a quick glance of a person's descendants.


Double-clicking on tree node will bring up the Edit Person dialog allowing to view or modify the personal data.

Database Processing

This section contains tools which may modify your database. The tools from this section are used mostly for finding and correcting errors in the data. The following database processing tools are currently available in GRAMPS:


The modifications will only be performed upon your explicit consent, except for the automatic fixes performed by Check and repair database tool.

Check and repair database

This tool checks the database for integrity problems, fixing the problems it can. Specifically, the tool is checking for:

  • Broken family links. These are the cases when a person's record refers to a family while the family's record does not refer to that person, and vice versa.

  • Missing media objects. The missing media object is the object whose file is referenced in the database but does not exist. This can happen when the file is accidentally deleted, renamed, or moved to another location.

  • Empty families. These are the family entries which have no reference to any person as their member.

  • Parent relationship. This checks all families to ensure that father and mother are not mixed up. The check is also made that parents have different gender. If they have common gender then their relationship is renamed to "Partners".

Extract information from names

This tool searches the entire database and attempts to extract titles and nicknames that may be embedded in a person's Given name field. If any information could be extracted, the candidates for fixing will be presented in the table. You may then decide which to repair as suggested and which not to.

Find possible duplicate people

This tool searches the entire database, looking for the entries that may represent the same person.

Fix capitalization of family names

This tool searches the entire database and attempts to fix the capitalization of family names. The aim is to have conventional capitalization: capital first letter and lower case for the rest of the family name. If deviations from this rule are detected, the candidates for fixing will be presented in the table. You may then decide which to repair as suggested and which not to.

Rename personal event types

This tool allows all the events of a certain name to be renamed to a new name.

Reorder GRAMPS IDs

This tool reorders the GRAMPS IDs according to the defaults of GRAMPS.


This section contains tools allowing you to perform a simple operation on a portion of data. The results can be saved in your database, but they will not modify your existing data. The following utilities are currently available in GRAMPS:

Custom Filter Editor

The Custom Filter Editor builds custom filters that can be used to select people included in reports, exports, and other tools and utilities. This is in fact a very powerful tool in genealogical analysis.

When you launch it, the User defined filters dialog appears that lists all the filters (if any) previously defined by you. Click the Add... button to define a new filter. Once you have designed your filters, you can edit, test, and delete selected filters using the Edit..., Test..., and Delete buttons, respectively. All the filters displayed in the list will be automatically saved along with your database and will be available with subsequent sessions of GRAMPS.


The changes made to the filters only take effect when you click the Apply and close button.

Clicking the Add... button invokes the following Define filter dialog:

Figure 3.35. Define filter dialog

Shows Define filter dialog.

Type the name for your new filter into the Name field. Enter any comment that would help you identify this filter in the future into the Comment field. Add as many rules to the Rule list as you would like to your filter using Add... button. If the filter has more than one rule, select one of the Rule operations. This allows you to choose whether all rules must apply, only one (either) rule must apply, or exactly one (either) rule must apply, in order for the filter to generate a match. If your filter has only one rule, this selection has no effect.

Check Return values that do not match the filter rules to invert the filter rule. For example, inverting "has a common ancestor with I1" rule will match everyone who does not have a common ancestor with that person).

Clicking the Add... button invokes the following Add Rule dialog:

Figure 3.36. Add Rule dialog

Shows Add Rule dialog.

The pane on the left-hand side displays available filter rules arranged by their categories in an expandable tree. For detailed filter rule reference, see Appendix C, Filter rules reference. Click on the arrows to fold/unfold the appropriate category. Select the rule from the tree by clicking on its name. The right-hand side displays the name, the description, and the values for the currently selected rule. Once you are satisfied with your rule selection and its values, click OK to add this rule to the rule list of the currently edited filter. Clicking Cancel will abort adding the rule to the filter.


A filter you have already designed may be used as a rule for another filter. This gives you nearly infinite flexibility in custom-tailoring your selection criteria that can be later used in most of the exports, reports, and some of the tools (such as comparing individual events).

Scratch Pad

This tool provides a temporary note pad to store database records for easy reuse. In short, this is a sort of the copy-and-paste functionality extended from textual objects to other types of records used in GRAMPS.


Scratch Pad makes extensive use of drag-and-drop technique.

To invoke Scratch Pad, either choose ToolsUtilitiesScratch Pad or click the ScratchPad button on the toolbar. The following window will appear:

Figure 3.37. Scratch Pad tool

Shows Add Scratch Pad tool.

Scratch Pad supports addresses, attributes (both personal and family), events (both personal and family), names, media objects references, source references, URLs, and of course textual information of notes and comments. To store any type of these records, simply drag the existing record on to the Scratch Pad from the corresponding editor dialog. To reuse the record, drag it from the Scratch Pad on to the corresponding place in the editor, e.g. Address tab, Attribute tab, etc.


Some objects are showing the link icon on the left. This indicates that dragging such selection will produce a reference to an existing object, not copy the object itself.

For example, the media object file will not be duplicated. Instead, the reference will be made to an existing media object, which will result in the local gallery entry.


Scratch Pad storage is persistent within a single GRAMPS session. Closing the window will not lose the stored records. However, exiting GRAMPS will.

Other tools

Generate SoundEx codes

This utility generates SoundEx codes for the names of people in the database. Please visit the NARA Soundex Indexing page to learn more about Soundex Indexing System.

Relationship calculator

This utility calculates and displays the relationship of any person to the Active Person.

Verify the database

This utility allows you to verify the database based on the set of criteria specified by you.

[Tip]Difference between Verify tool and previously described Check tool

The Check tool detects inconsistencies in the database structure. The Verify tool, however, is detecting the records that do not satisfy your particular criteria.

For example, you may want to make sure that nobody in your database had children at the age of 98. Based on common sense, such a record would indicate an error. However, it is not a consistency error in the database. Besides, someone might have a child at the age of 98 (although this rarely happens). The Verify tool will display everything that violates your criteria so that you can check whether the record is erroneous or not. The ultimate decision is yours.